Friday, December 23, 2022
Friday in the Fourth week of Advent
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he LOVED, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
It was Christ’s desire that we should all be a family, a family united in love. This is why our Lord submitted to His mother showing that now she was the mother and mediatrix of all mankind.
I would like to focus on the word desire. I like to hike and pray. One day I was hiking in the Fay Canyon area of Sedona, Arizona and I was reflecting on the seven deadly sins and the opposing virtues of our Lord sermon on the mount. As I was hiking and musing over the words that are associated with the deadly sin of lust: such words as long for, hanker for, hunger for, yearn, crave, and desire. In my mind I repeated desire, desire, desire and I asked our Lord what do you want me to desire? As I asked that question, I looked up at the canyon and spied a rock formation in the shape of a chalice. Yes Lord, I exclaimed. I shall desire to receive you in the Holy Mass. Lust is just a corrupted form of love that takes yet our desire should be to give love and receive with a grateful heart.
Today would be a good day to rest in the Lord and go to Mass and receive His body and blood. As we receive realize that He has heard our cry’s and has saved us. Such is the love of our God!
Every Christmas although the same in many ways is always new for each Christmas expresses a hope learned from a lifetime of praising God. For every Christmas if we open our eyes to truth we will see the handiwork of God; the rock of our salvation. Perhaps in these final days of anticipation it would do us well to reflect on the virtues of Mary Christ’s very own mother and in these final days in some way reflect them in our own lives.
Temperance the power of the soul
The virtue of temperance is necessary to the Christian who would live according to the law of God. When this virtue is wanting, the spirit becomes the slave of the flesh. It can no longer relish things divine; for, says St. Paul, "the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. ii, 14.) In fact, gluttony and gross living naturally tend to the obscuring of the intellect and to the quenching of spiritual light. It is vain, therefore, to look for wisdom among those that live in luxury and abundance: "Wisdom is not found in the land of them that live in delight." (Job, xxviii, 18.) Moreover intemperance, by exciting a wild gaiety, often provokes bickering’s and dissensions, and it is a known fact that gluttony takes a greater toll of human lives than does disease. But what is still worse, intemperance excites in man all kinds of impure thoughts, which find vent in words, gestures and actions contrary to holy modesty; it hardens the heart and prepares the way to eternal perdition.
THE Church teaches us that the Christian must all submit in expiation of our sins. Our divine Redeemer Himself impressed upon us this great truth when He said: "Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke xiii. 3.)
The object of penance is, in the first place, to lead us to refrain ourselves, in so far as reason and faith demand, from the inordinate desire of sensual pleasure, to which our fallen nature is inclined. So strong is this inclination, that we are ever in danger of falling into the slough of vice. How many Christians, alas, by following their unbridled imagination, lose both soul and body together!
Wherefore, Holy Church imposes upon us the obligation of fasting, putting us in mind of the advantages which accrue from this salutary penance to which we practice. Fasting, in effect, "represses vices, raises our thoughts heavenward, makes easy the practice of virtue, and is a constant source of merit." (Preface for Lent.)
As Mary was not tainted with original sin, she did not experience in herself this disorderly proneness to the pleasures of sense, the baneful consequence of the sin of our first parents. Being full of grace, she maintained always the just balance of the powers of her soul. She performed all her actions with ease and delight, not having to use violence with herself, in order to preserve that even poise of the faculties, which reason arid the law of God demand. Nevertheless, Mary subjected herself willingly to the law of penance and mortification, denying herself those. Her life was one long series of privations and self-denials. Her fasting and abstinence was continual. She only allowed herself what was necessary to maintain life. She mortified all her senses, so that it was hard to say in what particular kind of mortification she excelled, in modesty of the eyes, in lowliness of demeanor, in the sparingness of her words or in the dignity of her gestures. It was natural, then, that her Heavenly Bridegroom should find in her all His delight. And as the fruit of this temperance, Mary acquired an extraordinary facility in conversing familiarly with her Well-Beloved, a heavenly joy which was depicted on her countenance, a virginal beauty which radiated from her whole presence, a something so indescribably sweet and majestic, that it gave to her an aspect rather divine than human: "How beautiful art thou my love, how beautiful art thou! Thine eyes are as doves' eyes, besides what is hid within!" (Cant. iv, 1.)
Read: Have you blessed your Christmas tree yet? Prepare to do so before Advent is over.
Reflect: "To be fully a disciple of Jesus means not only accepting and believing his message, but also taking up and participating in the mission of encountering and inviting others to join our pilgrim journey to his heavenly kingdom."
Pray: Add this "O Antiphon" to your daily or meal-time prayer today: "O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!" (Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, Revised Edition, 77)
Act: Pope Francis said of evangelization: "It is not the mission of only a few, but it is mine, yours and our mission." Carry the lessons learned about evangelization into the Christmas season and beyond.
· Decide which Mass you will attend tomorrow.
The Three Feasts of the Nativity
When we celebrate Christmas, we are commemorating the three nativities of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the reason for the three Masses celebrated. The first is the eternal begetting of God the Son from all eternity within the mystery of the Blessed Trinity by the Father, “You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.”
· This FIRST NATIVITY was before the seven days of Creation, when everything was darkness. This is why the first Mass is at midnight to recall the darkness that prevailed during that first eternal birth of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
o The first nativity reminds us of the Spirit of poverty, the Spirit that tells us that all the things God created is His, to be used for His glory and not for man’s enjoyment. Even man was to use himself for the glory of God. This represents the six days of creation. If Adam, being the head of creation, had observed the spirit of poverty and used all of creation for the glory of God, then he would have entered into the Sabbath, God’s rest… i.e. eternal happiness. But Adam messed up everything. And the consequence: the whole of mankind could not enter God’s rest.
· The SECOND NATIVITY, or birth, of the Second Person of the Trinity is commemorated on Christmas day when He became man, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem. For the world, the darkness was beginning to be dispelled. This is why the second Mass is celebrated at dawn when the dawn is beginning to dispel the darkness.
o The second nativity reminds us of the Spirit of chastity. That Spirit reminds us to give up all physical comforts, pleasure and conveniences. And Christ in the manger is a clear example of this. It is a continuous reminder that true happiness can only be found in God and that we are on earth to seek God. All the rest will come with that find. True rest can only be found in God.
· The THIRD NATIVITY of Christ is when He is born in our souls, through His in-dwelling, when man, through grace, becomes enlightened. Thus, the third Mass is celebrated during the day when the sun is bright. For man is truly enlightened when he has Christ in his soul.
o The third nativity reminds us of the Spirit of obedience. It is only when we can say, “Not my will but Your will be done,” can Christ be born in our souls. The apostolic commission at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel reiterates this, reminding us of the role of the Church and the men of the Church: “… teach all My commands and how to observe them.”
Christmas reminds us of one lesson. Christ was born to die. For us the message is clear. We are born to die to oneself. And to die to oneself means reaching a point in our lives when we no longer do our own will but the will of the Father in heaven. This is to lose one’s life in order to find it. If we have learned the lessons of the first nativity, if we have learned the lesson of the second nativity, our reward is the third nativity, when Christ is born in our souls…. indeed, our eternal Christmas. This is truly a Merry Christmas.
— Excerpted from Fr. Odon de Castro, Bo. San Isidro, Magalang, Pampanga, Philippines
3 Healthy Things to Do Every Winter Solstice
1. Sleep deep. Shortest day = longest night. Take advantage of this and plan for it to be a perfect night of sleep.
Check in with yourself to evaluate your sleep hygiene. Sleep experts recommend that you establish a simple ritual before you go to bed to tell your body it is time to rest.
Brush your teeth, wash your face, read a book or meditate for several minutes before you close the light. Make your slumber environment clear of stressors by making your room as dark as possible, turning off the television and silencing your phone.
Set yourself up to be successful by making your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.
2. Sweat often. It’s dark when we leave for work and dark when we return home. It’s only normal that motivation to move wanes without the friendship of the sun.
While it’s tempting to skip the gym in favor of extra time hunkered down, do your best to move each day, especially today.
Walk an extra few minutes to a bus or subway stop further away, take the stairs and walk the mall to incorporate a little more movement into your daily routine.
Also, you don’t have to be a weekend warrior to enjoy an hour or two of cross-country skiing, a few minutes on the ice rink, or an afternoon sledding with the kids. Make time during the week for simple, active pleasure.
The benefits will show in your mood first. Remember these little bits of movement can not only add up but can also motivate us to move more and get in a “real” workout.
3. Live consciously. We spend a lot more time inside when it’s dark and cold outside. Spending time making your home or office a space that you like to be in will deflect some of the stress and help you lead a well and healthful life.
Winter cleaning isn’t so bad when you play your favorite music, and the result often makes you feel great. Carve out an hour to freshen up your space today.
Light scented candles and shift some furniture around so that you can enjoy it in a new way. Take a minute to look at what is and isn’t working in the space you live in so that you can feel empowered in your world. Take time to appreciate your surroundings today – those in nature and those you created for yourself.
Acknowledge the winter solstice this year, and every year going forward. Honor yourself and your work as you pursue your personal Nutritious Life ambitions for another season. Make it a day every year that you press the reset button amid the chaos of the holiday season and focus on you.
As you look forward to sunnier days, remember to enjoy the darker days, too!
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
CHAPTER ONE-YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND
Article 1-THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
II. "Him Only Shall You Serve"
2095 The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity inform and give life to the moral virtues. Thus charity leads us to render to God what we as creatures owe him in all justice. the virtue of religion disposes us to have this attitude.
2096 Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.
2097 To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the "nothingness of the creature" who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.
2098 The acts of faith, hope, and charity enjoined by the first commandment are accomplished in prayer. Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our adoration of God: prayer of praise and thanksgiving, intercession and petition. Prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God's commandments. " (We) ought always to pray and not lose heart."
2099 It is right to offer sacrifice to God as a sign of adoration and gratitude, supplication and communion: "Every action done so as to cling to God in communion of holiness, and thus achieve blessedness, is a true sacrifice."
2100 Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit...." The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.
Promises and vows
2101 In many circumstances, the Christian is called to make promises to God. Baptism and Confirmation, Matrimony and Holy Orders always entail promises. Out of personal devotion, the Christian may also promise to God this action, that prayer, this alms-giving, that pilgrimage, and so forth. Fidelity to promises made to God is a sign of the respect owed to the divine majesty and of love for a faithful God.
2102 "A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God concerning a possible and better good which must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of religion," A vow is an act of devotion in which the Christian dedicates himself to God or promises him some good work. By fulfilling his vows he renders to God what has been promised and consecrated to Him. the Acts of the Apostles shows us St. Paul concerned to fulfill the vows he had made.
2103 The Church recognizes an exemplary value in the vows to practice the evangelical counsels:
Mother Church rejoices that she has
within herself many men and women who pursue the Savior's self-emptying more
closely and show it forth more clearly, by undertaking poverty with the freedom
of the children of God, and renouncing their own will: they submit themselves
to man for the sake of God, thus going beyond what is of precept in the matter
of perfection, so as to conform themselves more fully to the obedient Christ.
The Church can, in certain cases and for proportionate reasons, dispense from vows and promises
The social duty of religion and the right to religious freedom
2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it." This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person." It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men," nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."
2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ." By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live." The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church. Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.
2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits." This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."
2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."
2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.
2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner. The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."
· Jesse Tree ornament: Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter
· Humbug Day-watch Scrooge